Rome fest looks to '07

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ROME -- A change of date for next year's RomaCinemaFest may be in the cards as a result of complaints by the Venice Film Festival that the inaugural Rome fest fell too close to the more established Venice bash.

"It's fair to talk about the possibility of changing the date and I know this will be discussed," Giorgio Gosetti, the festival's general director, Gosetti said in an interview as the Rome festival wound down at the weekend.

 "We have to listen to what the Ministry of Culture has to say, to talk to the private sector, to the organizers of Venice, and of the Turin Film festival (which is held in December). But in the end, it is my belief that the dates selected for the RomaCinemaFest won't change much," he added.

 One of Venice's chief complaints was that Rome selected its dates too close to Venice's for the two events to peacefully co-exist. Venice concluded only five weeks before the Rome event got underway.     

But date shifts were definitely not high on the agenda Monday as the organizers of the Rome inaugural event toasted the success of its bow on the world's film festival circuit. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say that objectively we deserve a 7. But I'd give us an 8.5 because we did it as a first-year festival," said Gosetti, adding that the bar will be set even higher for next year.

Organizers said they were ecstatic in the wake of the festival, which saw its red carpet graced by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Sean Connery, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, and Robert DeNiro. The even attracted an estimated half a million visitors and sold 56,000 tickets --both figures above expectations.

"Of course we need to change some things here and there, and we need to improve from where we started, but overall I think we got things right and we will continue on the path we are on," added Gosetti.

There were some rumblings of discontent among attendees about the difficulty of moving between the festival's far-flung venues, a relative absence of cutting-edge films, difficulties in the distribution of tickets, and a version of a business market that some said lacked enough options to spark many sales. But most general comments from participants were positive.

"The facilities were beautiful, the organizers really took care of us, and there were enough sales agents (in the market) to keep me busy," Mark Holdom, a buyer with EuroCine Films, said in an interview. "I've got no complaints."

Luca Mertz, an independent Belgian producer and a film festival veteran, agreed. "Nobody said it was perfect but for a first year festival I think things went pretty well," Mertz said. "It will only get better."

Gosetti said the fest plans to increase its role with the private sector both by increasing the focus on the side-market market called "The Business Street.

Thanks to the ties between the RomaCinemaFest and Tribeca, DeNiro is likely to remain involved. And next year Italian mega-star Sophia Loren will be on hand with a central role, after originally complaining about being left out of this year's event.
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